Vigilante Bill Recalled

Three days after Parliament passed the Vigilantism and Related Offences Bill 2019, it has recalled the bill for some amendments to prescribe stiffer punishment for offenders.

The bill was, therefore, brought back to Parliament yesterday for it to be taken through a third consideration stage to enable members make the necessary amendments before it is assented to by the President.

The Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, said Parliament erred to make the minimum sentence for a criminal offence five years which was inconsistent with the minimum sentence prescribed in the 1992 Constitution.

He, therefore, moved the motion for the Clause 7, sub clause 3 of the bill to be amended to make the minimum sentence for offenders 10 years instead of the five years which was originally captured in the bill that was passed on Monday.

The original bill has a minimum sentence of five years and a maximum sentence of 15 years for offenders, but the minimum sentence has now been changed to 10 years as provided in the Constitution.

After the changes during the third consideration on the floor of the House, the bill was read for the third time and finally passed.

The bill was introduced earlier in the year by the Executive to criminalize the activities of vigilante groups and land guards in the country.

First consideration of the bill came to an end on Friday, July 5, 2019, but some other crucial amendments were also considered on Monday during the second consideration stage before it was passed unanimously by the House.

President Akufo-Addo in his State of the Nation address in Parliament in January 2019 gave a strong indication that he would bring a vigilantism bill to Parliament to fight the phenomenon of political vigilantism groups in the country after violence had erupted during the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election on January 29, 2019.

The new bill which also outlaws activities of land guards in the country makes offenders liable to a maximum of 15 years’ imprisonment or a huge fine or both as specified in the bill.

In the bill, a vigilante group has been defined as two or more persons acting as a group, body, association, organisation, union and in concert by resorting to an act or threat or violence or intimidation to further their interests or the interests of their sponsors.

By Thomas Fosu Jnr